Google Wants Regulators To Make Apple Open Up iMessage

Google and other big European telecoms are making a daring move by pushing authorities to classify Apple’s iMessage as a “core” service under the EU’s recently passed Digital Markets Act (DMA). The case for iMessage is made in a letter addressed to the European Commission, where it is positioned as a service of utmost importance and stressed as a vital conduit between business users and their clients.

The CEOs of major telecom companies, including Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, and Orange, as well as a senior vice-president of Google, sign the letter arguing that iMessage satisfies the requirements to be considered a key platform service. If approved, this designation might compel Apple to violate the present ecosystem exclusivity by allowing iMessage to function with other texting services.

At the heart of Google’s push is the desire for Apple to adopt RCS, a cross-platform messaging standard seen as the successor to SMS. Google has been vocal about its #GetTheMessage campaign, advocating for openness and interoperability in messaging services. The letter accuses Apple of employing a documented strategy with iMessage to create a lock-in effect, limiting users to Apple’s ecosystem.

While Apple’s Messages app can send cross-platform messages via SMS, the enhanced features of iMessage, such as encryption and higher-quality media sharing, remain exclusive to Apple users. The letter points out that iMessage’s current structure restricts business users to sending enriched messages only to iOS users, relying on traditional SMS for other users.

The argument for iMessage as a core platform service hinges on its operation by a company with annual revenues exceeding €7.5 billion and having at least 10,000 monthly active business users in the EU. The focus on business users aligns with the DMA’s perspective that core platform services act as crucial gateways between businesses and consumers.

As the European Commission investigates whether iMessage qualifies for regulation under DMA rules, the outcome could significantly impact the messaging landscape. Apple, for its part, contends that iMessage is designed for personal consumer communications and falls outside the scope of the DMA. The Commission’s decision, expected before February next year, will undoubtedly shape the future dynamics of messaging services in the EU.

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